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In the Forefront for Those in the Background #CloseGitmo

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By Dr Maha Hilal

#MuslimsRally2CloseGitmo

There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard. ~Arundhati Roy~

These words could not ring more true for the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay – prisoners who have languished for years behind the prisons’ walls. The prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are all Muslim. Every single one of them, including those who have been released.  Furthermore, there is no longer any doubt that these prisoners have been subjected to egregious abuses of their rights and torture amounting to crimes against humanity.

Despite this fact, Muslims have remained relatively silent about the ongoing abuses of other Muslims in the “War on Terror.” As a Muslim and long time activist on issues of torture and Guantanamo, I have continuously been disappointed at this fact, attending protests year after year only to witness the absence of my community members. This silence has become increasingly painful to bear and ever more deafening with each year that passes.

As an individual whose moral compass comes from Islamic teachings on justice, I have learned that my quest for justice must be absolute, not selective. This is what I, as a Muslim take pride in – my religion’s emphasis on social justice that prompts believers to challenge oppression whenever and wherever it occurs.

With my Islamic principles in mind and on the 13th year of the anniversary of Guantanamo’s opening to house prisoners of the War on Terror, I took the lead in organizing a Muslim contingent to be present at the annual protests in front of the White House.  I organized the contingent with the premise that we, as Muslims, had to be present and that our presence must be intentional. As Muslims, I saw it as imperative that we stand in solidarity with our brothers to challenge and draw attention to the torture and degrading treatment that they have suffered at the hands of the US government.  Moreover, in a climate where Muslim organizations feel repeatedly compelled to condemn violence perpetrated by a small minority of Muslims, we were present to condemn a government that has harmed members of our ummah with our tax dollars. Thus, #MuslimsRally2CloseGitmo was born.

At this year’s protest, we were fortunate to have about ten people present at the rally, including my fellow organizers Ramah Kudaimi and Darakshan Raja. Kudaimi, relaying her reasons for organizing and participating in the rally stated that, “It is a fact that Muslims have been the primary victims of the U.S. War on Terror, yet so often they are absent from spaces organizing against these policies. Muslim Americans have a responsibility to ensure that the Guantanamo Bay prison is shut down and must be at the forefront of confronting U.S. torture, surveillance, and other terror policies and ensuring accountability for all those responsible.”

In reference to the ongoing abuses in Guantanamo Bay and the need for the #MuslimsRally2CloseGitmo, Raja stated, “Guantanamo Bay represents the institutionalization of torture. The torture methods tested at Gitmo were exported to ‘black sites’ across the globe and prisons that deal with Muslims suspected of being terrorists. As long as Guantanamo remains open, the message is constantly affirmed that Muslims aren’t human beings.”

Khadija Mehter, another Muslim in attendance at the rally stated, “As Muslim Americans, we understand that it is our duty to speak out against the terrorism that has been inflicted upon the detainees, ALL of them Muslim, as the Guantanamo prison symbolizes white supremacy, imperialism and subjugation over Muslims globally.”

I genuinely hope that we won’t have to rally to close Guantanamo Bay next year on January 11th, 2016.  But if we do, I hope that more Muslims heed the call to stand for justice for those in Guantanamo. As Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” Thus, we must use our voices and privilege to demand an end to torture and the closing of Guantanamo.

Below are some tweets from the campaign and pictures from the rally. We pray that these men find some sort of justice and that Muslims continue to grow in their role as advocates for justice, not observers of injustice.

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Shabeeb Hasan

    January 15, 2015 at 12:34 AM

    This such an important rally but I don’t see even a single comment by MM readers on this post? Get the word out!

    • Avatar

      Maha Hilal

      January 15, 2015 at 6:53 PM

      Thank you for your comment Shaheeb-I wish this topic would get significantly more traction from Muslims. Please help spread the word!

  2. Pingback: Civil Freedoms – Issue #336-January 16, 2015

  3. Pingback: Congress Doesn't Applaud Muslim Tolerance at State of the Union

  4. Pingback: Civil Freedoms – In the forefront for those in the background #CloseGitmo

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Ten Reasons You Should Support MuslimMatters This #GivingTuesday

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

With so many amazing #GivingTuesday campaigns running, why should you choose to support MuslimMatters?

1. MuslimMatters publishes Islamic news and perspectives not given voice in mainstream media, and we do it for free.

2. We bring awareness to the issues otherwise sidelined by mainstream media, like refugee rights, Palestinian self-determination, the oppression of the Rohingya, mass internment of the Uighur, and government lockdown and repression of the Kashmiris.

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A Letter From The Executive Director

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AssalamuAlaikum Dear MM Fam,

Alhamdulillah in 2007, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that started up a little website called MuslimMatters.org. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade. In that time MM has grown from a group blog into a full-blown media entity giving an independent and authentic Islamic voice to contemporary spiritual, social, and political issues that we face.

MM's work has been featured in CNN, Washington Post, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and more. This platform has grown tremendously and now reaches millions of readers every year.Click To Tweet

With 2020 around the corner, we are at a critical juncture. Traffic has grown beyond our current capacity – yes, we’re basically the masjid that now has an expansion project lol – and we have to grow in order to meet our community’s media needs.

Your help is needed to invest in the MM infrastructure so we can not only keep up with our current growth but also develop new content such as podcasts and videos to continue to reach more readers all across the globe.

Your contribution on #GivingTuesday is particularly vital as it will count as double with a Facebook match. We need your help to make vital improvements that will enable MuslimMatters to continue being a voice for the voiceless and a platform for mainstream Islam in the media.

This #GivingTuesday I’m raising money for Muslimmatters Inc and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. And on GivingTuesday Dec 3, Facebook will match a total of $7 million in donations first come, first served. Thank you for your support.

Contribute what you can, and please share this post to help us hit our #GivingTuesday target to keep MuslimMatters strong for 2020.

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SaveUighur Urges Muslim Community To Support Black Friday Boycott Of “Made in China” Clothing

Cotton made in China
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SaveUighur.org is urging Masjids and Islamic organizations to call for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday boycott of any clothing made in China this week.

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, is the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, with retailers offering deals and discounts in stores and online.

China is currently engaged in a campaign of cultural genocide and forced assimilation of its Uighur Muslim community in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in northwest China.

SaveUighur.org is a campaign to raise awareness about this human rights tragedy.

Clothing is specifically being targeted for boycott because experts say 80% of cotton used in Chinese clothing comes from East Turkestan, where forced labor is routinely used. As well, 30% of all U.S. clothing comes from China.

“Americans must send a message to the Chinese government that its horrific abuse of Uighurs will not be tolerated,” said Aydin Anwar, an Uighur-American activist with SaveUighur.org. “We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government’s genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”

Since April 2017, the Chinese government has thrown about 800,000 to two million Uighurs and other Muslims into the largest concentration camps since those of Nazi Germany during World War II. Prisoners have been subjected to torture, gang rape, and medical experimentation. It has also forcibly separated families, sending children to state-run child welfare institutions and boarding schools without access to their parents, and without parental consent.

Outside of the camps, Uighurs are subjected to strict surveillance of all communication within and outside of China, and spies are sent to live in Uighur homes.

SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to support this campaign and to encourage family, friends, and followers on social media to do the same using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FastFromChina

(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item.

(2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China.

(3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible.

(4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan

For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.org

CONTACT: Aydin Anwar, C: 571-344-3885

“We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government's genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”Click To Tweet
SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to boycott Made in China clothing, using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uyghur #uighur #FastFromChina Click To Tweet
(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item. (2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China. (3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible. (4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.orgClick To Tweet

 

“The South China Morning Post reports that U.S.-based scholars and experts spoke before legislators about how Uighurs who have been forcibly held in detention centers have been put to work in factory jobs. Companies that used these factories staffed by Uighurs and other Turkic minorities would receive government subsidies for each individual trained and employed, along with shipping subsidies. This cheap labor along with the government subsidies would result in very low manufacturing costs, “undercutting global prices,” according to testimony presented at the hearing by the Center of Strategic and International Studies. This could turn Xinjiang into a hub for low-cost manufacturing.

According to reliable sources such as the agricultural research company Gro Intelligence, a vast cotton-producing industry has been developed in Xinjiang which supplies 80 percent of the country’s total cotton output. This would mean that any cotton clothing sourced from China would be suspect of containing cotton grown using slave labor.

Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party is transferring Uighur and other Turkic people to other parts of China forcibly, so the task of tracking forced labor of Uighur is no longer limited to Xinjiang (East Turkestan) but to the rest of the country, making it virtually impossible to track the forced labor of prisoners. How can third-party auditors ensure that the workers in these factories are not Uighurs removed from Xinjiang (East Turkestan)?”

Open Letter to Costco On Chinese Products Made by Forced Labor

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